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High-Rise #FilmReview ‘the director runs wild along with the residents’
May 11, 2017, 5:00 pm
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High-Rise (2015)
Drama, Rated MA15+, 119 Minutes.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller
Now available for mobile cinema events

Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.


J. G. Ballard’s Novel High-Rise has been a passion project for producer Jeremy Thomas since its release in 1975. Purchasing the rights to what many claimed was an unfilmable novel Thomas would finally see his dream become reality forty years later.

Director Ben Wheatley (Free Fire, A Field In England and Sightseers) finally commits this disturbing dystopian vision of the past – the 70’s – to the big screen. Was it unfilmable? No. Did it make a whole lot of sense? No. Not that there is a lot to get your head around, the story is a straight up parable that constantly slaps you across the face to make sure you’re following. That’s right, poor people on the floors below, rich people up top and even a man on the top floor all dressed in white called the architect – sigh.

This is not to say the same subject matter can’t be entertaining. Director Bong Joon-Ho masterfully pulled off an almost identical plot with the film Snowpiercer released two years prior. With the director creating an inventive, thrilling, and – most importantly – highly watchable and re-watchable film. High-Rise is hard going, mainly for it’s violence towards its female characters and live-in pets.

In fact I had to tackle this film in two goes. The only reason I came back was the brilliant soundtrack from Clint Mansell who managed to add a stylish 70’s styled score. As well as the breathtaking cinematography from Laurie Rose, a regular collaborator with Wheatley.

If ultra-violence is your thing, you’ve come to the right address, but if you would like something else in your abode, like plot or narrative structure this isn’t the building for you. And speaking of ultra violence the poster draws an uncanny resemblance to the Kubrick classic ‘Clockwork Orange’, a film that was obviously a massive influence on the production.

At 2hrs long it feels like the director runs wild along with the residents and completely forgets the people on the ground floor – the audience.

Rating ★★      out of ★★★★★

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The Secret Life Of Pets #FilmReview ‘one of those great ideas that has to work’
April 28, 2017, 7:50 pm
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The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Animated/Adventure/Family, Rated G, 91 Minutes.
Featuring Voices of: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart

The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. Now available to hire for mobile cinema screenings.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 7.51.38 am

The latest film from ‘Illumination’, the studio that gave us Minions and the Despicable Me movies is ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’. An idea that I am surprised hadn’t been explored before. It’s the idea that our pets lead adventurous lives we couldn’t even comprehend the moment we leave them at home. Unlike comic book movies or the ever-growing number of re-boot’s that use their existing audience to bolster their box office. ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’ is a totally original idea that still manages to have an audience – pet lovers. Anyone who has a pet is going to want to see this film and the box office results indicate there are a lot of pet lovers out there with it becoming the fifth biggest original hit of all time. Money aside the idea at the core of the film had the potential to be the next Toy Story, it’s just one of those great ideas that has to work.

The opening scenes show us the bond between a little terrier named Max with his owner, told from the perspective of Max. Unfortunately for Max his owner picks up a stray named Duke and his world is upended. This sets some fun scenes in motion, with Max taking revenge by trying to get Duke kicked out by generally making a mess and wrecking the house. Something I imagine all pet owners can relate too.

The little quirks of pets aren’t ignored, like cats loving boxes and chasing lights. I especially love Leonard the heavy metal loving poodle. It’s these moments that make the film and connect with the owners of real life pets. However the script aims for something much grander and sets off toward epic adventure, including a gang of sewer dwelling ‘flushed’ pets. It’s here that the film seems to run off the rails, although I did love the tattooed pig with the butcher’s meat cut lines marked out.

I think the films strengths come from it being set in the realms of reality. Not having bunnies smashing a truck through the city. I think the scriptwriters would have benefited more from watching endless funny pet video’s on YouTube as their research, instead of bingeing the Fast and Furious 1-8.

That being said the car chases were extremely well done and great fun, but really out of place. And speaking of out of place a scene with a sausage factory was just bizarre. Also a fight scene near the end of the film featuring a white puff-ball of a dog called Gidget taking on the baddies was unexpected but very cool.

I think on the whole the film suffers from trying to be an epic adventure. If it just dialled back the scale and focused on a smaller, more believable story, filled with great pet quirks and fewer characters you may have had something as great as Toy Story. Instead you end up with a fun and enjoyable film that lacks any emotion or substance.

Rating ★★★½ out of ★★★★★

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The Jungle Book #FilmReview ‘a visually spectacular, tonally psychotic, family film that will have little kids screaming’
April 16, 2017, 12:10 pm
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The Jungle Book (2016)
Adventure/Drama/Family, Rated PG, 106 Minutes.
Starring: Neel Sethi Featuring Voices of: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley

After a threat from the tiger, SherKhan, forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub, named Mowgli, embarks on a journey of self discovery with the aid of the panther, Bagheera, and the free spirited bear, Baloo. Available 17 November 2016

Jungle Book 2016 Review

It’s easy to see why they decided to make a live action remake of ‘The Jungle Book’. With computer animation as good as it is today it’s a perfect opportunity for Disney to dust off a few classics and give them an update for a few extra bucks. There’s a whole new generation that have probably never seen the animated Disney musical from 1967 and they most definitely haven’t seen the less popular 1942 live action version. Giving director Jon Favreau the perfect opportunity to re-imagine this classic Rudyard Kipling story and create something we haven’t seen before in a Jungle Book film.

I’ve always had issues with accepting talking animals in films, but the animation here is so precise that it lures you in to the point where you almost forget. That is until you realise you are listening to highly recognisable Hollywood actors, and your mind veers off imagining them laying down their dialogue in a sound proof booth pulling crazy faces. They almost pull it off and I think if they went for less recognisable voices it might have been to the benefit of the film. The one exception is Idris Elba voicing the tiger Shere Khan, never before has a talking animal been so believable, the voice casting here could almost have me believe tigers can really talk. Shere Khan is so threatening and scary in this film he left many little kids crying and being taken home by their parents, who were probably a little surprised at how dark this film is given its PG rating. Sure there’s no blood and gore and definitely no sex, but there is death and many gritty action sequences are filmed with a mud splash on the lens approach that would probably be more at home in a war movie – the stampede scene in particular was breathtaking.

Given this new gritty stylistic approach I found it really weird that they decided to retain three of the songs from the animated musical, all of which sat very awkwardly in this new environment. For the most part they didn’t even sing the songs properly, they were more like an obligatory nod to the original. Strangely director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) wanted to retain much of the music but wanted to avoid it becoming a musical. Coming from someone who’s favourite musical is the ‘Blues Brothers’ and most hated ‘The Sound Of Music’ , I surprised myself with the concept that it actually needed to fully embrace the musical or not at all. Obviously with such loved material Favreau tends to tread the middle road, providing soulless versions of some songs from the 1967 animated version. The exception being a rendition of ‘The Bare Necessities’ by Dr. John that makes it worth sitting through the end credits.

The end product – yes product – is a visually spectacular, tonally psychotic, family film that will have little kids screaming and parents feet tapping along to some old tunes from their childhood.

After screening all three Jungle Book features I would recommend the animated musical from 1967. As I mentioned I don’t like most traditional musicals, but the swing jazz and comedy of this original makes it one of the true Disney greats that never needed updating. But that’s too bad because, director Jon Favreu has announced he will be following up his 2016 version with a sequel, And Andy Serkis will also direct another all star cast in his version expected in 2018.

Rating ★★★½ out of ★★★★★

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